One of the themes that emerged for my book “Leading with Wisdom: Sage Advice from 100 Experts” was: Leaders Connect with Empathy and Compassion. When I asked how to do this, they gave ideas that are included in the book. But this post can also add value for anyone in a leadership position. Learn from a police officer who learned to connect with empathy and compassion.
We are living in interesting, challenging, and polarized times. The growing trends of conflict and violence are disturbing such as the need for the movement Black Lives Matter, racial profiling by police, and the rise in hate crimes.
It is a time when we need to work for peace, demonstrate courage, and show compassion. But how do we do this?
Read the story about Cheri Maples. She died a few weeks ago after experiencing a traumatic bicycle accident. Cheri embraced mindful leadership and integrated compassion into her life and work as a police officer. The story made me think about how I might live and work differently. It is one thing to read, write, and teach about these concepts and another thing to practice them in ways that matter. Maples concluded that most situations of conflict are the results of misplaced anger that then escalates into violence. When she shifted her attitudes and behaviors (softened her heart) as a police officer, the people she encountered “softened their hearts too.”
Click here to learn more about Cheri Maples. You can listen to a podcast of Krista Tippett interviewing Thich Nhat Hanh and others about mindfulness, compassion, and courage in a world of trauma. The interview took place at a retreat center with at least 50 people who work in the criminal justice system.
Since I had the topic of courage on my mind, I was interested in an interview on NPR between Shepard and Terry Gross. With the recent death of Sam Shepard from ALS, they replayed the interview. Shepard was sharing how he learned about courage from Chuck Yeager when he was filming the movie The Right Stuff. Shepard said, “Courage isn’t the absence of fear. We all have fears. Courage is being brave enough to face your fears. You look it in the eye.” There is no doubt that Shepard had to demonstrate courage in living with ALS.
How are the leaders in your organization demonstrating courage and compassion?
How can you be brave enough to face your fears?
How are you leading and living your life with courage and compassion?